self awareness

Sympathy for the Devil

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He was there.

Standing in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.

His cropped hair, dark.

Eyes even darker.

Jaw clean and sharp.

He was looking at Rice Chex and waiting with a couth eye for exactly what he knew would come.

Sita arrived in aisle four, her arms wrapped around a dozen eggs, a half gallon of milk dangling in her hand. Beside boxes with leprechauns, rabbits and elves hawking their sugar coated delights, she stood, frozen, debating whether a woman her age should be buying frosted flakes or something more responsible, wavering in that moment not just about her breakfast choices, but the path of lunch, dinner, and everything beyond.

One doesn’t expect to meet the devil while shopping for cereal. We think his reddened grin will creep up on us while we dwell in the abyss misery, not while we’re contemplating our whole grain, fiber rich options. But that Tuesday afternoon, the Price of Darkness leaned past Sita and reached for that same box that she had her eye on.

“I love these things,” he said as he glanced her way with a smile that simultaneously spoke of triviality, yet also seemed to say “I know who you are.”

She smiled back, took a box for herself and nodded, for she knew him too.

In the parking lot, her cart rattling with a faulty wheel, she saw him again.  He was loading his trunk with the groceries of a middle aged man.

“Enjoy your frosted flakes,” she called, as if she were a clumsy girl at fifteen.

“Absolutely.” He smiled again.

And from there they began, talking about weather and civic involvement and the price of gasoline, but they both knew these words were just costumes for a deeper message that passed between their eyes:

“I know you.”

“I know you”

“I know you.”

He did not need to make an effort, nor did she for future meetings to occur, for the collaboration of external forces, these unseen hands of life and fate, seemed to guide them.

One morning over iced Americanos he said to her, straight and clear:

“Sita, I’m the devil.”

“But of course,” she laughed.

It was then that he began to talk. Sita listened. Intently.  She was entranced by the way he understood suffering, the way he could see exactly what everyone desired. She marveled at his disdain for humanity and the way he could control it all.

She didn’t falter. She was not afraid.  To her he was like a dark, seductive snake coming in close. She liked how he moved, concealed so slightly by blades of grass, his tongue flickering as he spoke.  She didn’t question his words, the way he boasted about his skills of studying and devouring his prey.

An espresso machine hissed behind them and Sita slipped in to the sound.  This married woman with a loving heart had been in a dilemma, not just of which cereal to buy, but which life she should live.  She yearned for the freedom of no longer having to live a self-imposed notion of goodness…of being the one who must bring light to a room, mend broken backs, and soiled hearts.

For here, in front of her was the antidote.

Here was her mirrored opposite.

Greed, anger, jealousy, revenge – the things she resisted and loathed about herself were his daily companions. His closest friends.

So one day she went to his home.  There amidst his tidy walls, his carefully made bed, she gave in to her cereal box needs.  With no regard for what she would lose, she let his precise, planned version of passion make its way in, calculated, controlled. She let this creature of the night take her breath, choke her, swallow her whole.

But all the while she smiled…and laughed, for the first time in maybe her whole life, she allowed darkness to rule, without guilt.  Freedom spoke.  She was no longer a slave to the plastic goodness to which she had bound herself.

But one does not sleep with a lion and expect to not be scratched.

Her husband knew what had happened the moment he saw her.  Without falter, he asked her to leave. He was not angry, simply just broken.

So she moved into a home where the sounds of loneliness echoed against the walls.

Then one day the Prince of Darkness returned.

In her new bed, in a house without family, she once again allowed the devil’s skin, marked in alabaster and blue to meet her own.

There both of them tried desperately to get their fill and as they did she watched his face. It was not the familiar one of power and mastery, but a look of smallness, sadness.  And as her body moved obdedient with the pulses of his, she observed his starkness, and it occurred to her that perhaps what she saw was not him at all, but herself.

Shocked to see the depth of her own pain marked on another’s face, she starred, transfixed. Harsh pain and the beauty of loneliness danced before her eyes.  Swept now fully into the tornado between them, she felt as the rhythms he pounded out melting into the rhythms of the world.  Hunger, dissatisfaction, greed, jealousy, self-loathing were conjured on her ceiling, upon the walls.

As she felt herself peak, she could now see in her mind’s eye her own empty wound of dissatisfaction, her lifetime of paper grins, self-hatred, and the forced flat happiness she expected of those around her.  And as she watched the man who called himself the devil fight to relieve his pain within her, the truth arose.

She had become exactly what she feared.

He finished incomplete, a lion without a kill.  She watched as he put on his shirt, fixed his hair. They talked about the weather, civic involvement, and the price of gasoline and she walked him to the door.

Two months have passed and the devil is gone.  He has moved on to more promising prey, new forms of deception, self-torment, new spaces to burn.

But for her, in the place where scorched souls lay, life is coming.  With diligence and love her new home is now filled with flowers, butterflies dance on her walls, and she breathes in the joy of no longer denying the unnamable spaces in her heart.

She has met the devil, seen his truth.  And she knows, in the barren land of honesty – anger dissolves into sadness.  Addiction, greed, and lust dissolve into wounds of lost love. And for this reason the woman, in her new home of butterflies and daisies, eats her sugar coated cereals and dances with light, for she knows there is nothing to fear. She has peered into the darkness, held its hand, looked in the mirror, seen its sadness and finally understands the horrific elegance of loss, hunger, and love.

 

Just the Beginning – a poem

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Thoughts,

too many to name,

populate my head,

speaking half-truths as if they were the authority.

Today I decide-

That no longer will I let the roaming beasts roar,

no longer will I let

the illusionary needs of hungry ghosts

dictate who I may be.

Today, for the first time

I look myself in the eye

and say

no more

to cloud building

no more

to idol constructs

no more to games

where we’re all slated to loose

Today

I stand here naked

Not wanting,

Not needing

but being.

Be here!  Be love!  Be mighty!

Rest your worries, my love.

The end is not near…

this is just the beginning.

I’ve Been Thinking Too Much

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Hello. My name is Becky Pourchot and I’m an over thinker.

If there was such a thing as Over Thinker’s Anonymous I’d be the president. I’m a pro. Some days I think (and think some more) about all the energy I wasted in my life brooding over things that didn’t deserve any brooding.

Tonight, fed up with the overthinking I’ve been doing lately, I walked down to the beach (two blocks away), sat down, closed my eyes and breathed slowly in and out. I relaxed and let my heart open. Within moments all of my frustrations and fears seemed to fly off into the air, dissipating with the clouds.

Over thinking is an interesting thing. I may at first feel all mellow when a thought will pops in my head. Alone, a single thought can be beautiful and simple, but when worry and the need for reassurance kick in that problems start happening. When left unchecked, pretty soon a tower of fear and noise populate my once peaceful head. My mind has been known to travel from tranquil to end-of-the-world status in mere minutes.

When I was a kid these weighty thought clouds were all encompassing. In fact it got to the point at the age of fourteen that my parents took me to a psychiatrist. Pretty soon my clouds of overthinking were no longer just mental weather patterns but illness with all kinds of dire names: depression, anxiety, OCD.

Because I came from a medically focused family, medications were quickly prescribed and in time my thought clouds lifted-slightly. However as well intentioned as my parents and the doctor were, what they failed to tell me was that the drugs couldn’t “cure” me, in fact it was ME and me alone that had the power to change the climate of my own mind.

Forty years later I’m finally getting it. In the past few years I’ve learned what Glinda told Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz “You’ve had the power all along”. I’ve learned to manipulate my moods and the weight of thoughts with simple actions. All it takes is a faith in myself and a lot of practice.

For me I’ve developed a series of tools, like a life-sized tool kit that I pull out when I’m getting stuck. We’ve all got our own set of tools, it’s just a matter of recognizing and cultivating them. For me it’s meditating, dancing (turning on the music real loud and dancing like mad), baking, listening to music in the car, working out at the gym, or riding my motorcycle. Sometimes the best thing I can do is just sit and pause, maybe eat a piece of fruit real slow, and savor every detail of it, the texture, the flavor, the snap of the skin in my mouth. Buddhists call this mindfulness. Slowing down to appreciate minute details always seems to help me.

Over time I’ve developed a pretty good awareness of my different mental states. When I’m all wrapped up in whatever life hands me, I pause and think: “Oh man, you’re really caught up in this, aren’t you?”

There’s no judgement, just recognition.

Then I find a quiet spot, close my eyes and breathe deep. All it takes is maybe five breaths now to settle back into a place of joy. The longer I sit the “lighter” I feel. The weight of my thoughts and worries is lifted and I feel more at ease. I often notice a little smile on my face as my heart opens up with joy.

What I’ve learned from this new found “power” is that the weightiness we give to life is not real. It’s just a heavy illusion, layers of thoughts that act like veils, covering all that simple joy that resides at the center of it all.

I will be honest, some days my tools have been less effective. Sometimes I’m out with friends and I’m so wrapped up in whatever is going on that I lose my center and some days, alone I dig myself in so deep in my mind that it takes several “tools” and some hearty distraction to get me out. The more I learn to recognize my states of being and the more I train myself towards this lightness of being, the easier it is to get there.

I was told back when I was a kid that the mental illnesses I was diagnosed with would be with me always, however I no longer identify myself as “sick”. In fact I’m healthier now than I even have been before. Sure, I may brood more than the people around me, but rather than allow myself to be a victim of my mind, I choose to use my weakness as a point of growth.

I look back to when I was a teenager, trapped in my fear, and I think, “Holy cow! Look how far I’ve come.” I struggle, yes, without a doubt, but I also, for the first time feel like I’m the one in charge as I learn to navigate this wonderful life.

Peace to you,

Becky

 

Death and Life Entwined

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Today I attended a funeral for an aunt I never knew well.  What little I knew of her, I must say,  when my family would visit with my aunt and uncle and cousins I always admired her brash, out spoken nature. In spite of our infrequent visits I wanted to go to her funeral.  Family is family, love is love, no matter how distant.

My relatives have done very well for themselves. They live in southern Florida and exemplify the image of the Jewish family who always played their cards right and made it big. Their life is luxury, and they live it well.

The funeral was in an opulent funeral home, with large Greek pillars out front and floor to ceiling marble. The sanctuary was filled with wealthy men and women, country club goers, all with New York and Philadelphia accents. It felt foreign to my Midwestern upbringing, but very quickly all awkwardness melted away.

My cousins and uncle sat in the front row, holding each others hands, comforting each other when they broke into tears. As I watched this tenderness, heartbroken thoughts of the last funeral I had attended came to mind.

This funeral took place in Northern Florida, with a working class, non-Jewish family grieving the loss of my friend’s dear mother. She was a single mother, a strong source of love, who devoted much of her life to solely supporting her seven children. Making ends meet was never easy.

Given these two family’s backgrounds, you’d think the differences would outweigh the similarities…yet in many ways these two families, in this moment of sadness and loss were so similar, it was striking. Love, tenderness, vulnerability do not discriminate, because in the end grief is grief, love is love. No matter whether you’re living in a multi-million dollar home or just barely paying rent, sadness is still sadness. Heartbreak hurts, no matter who you are.

Today I saw my family’s humanness, their beautiful, bare tenderness, just as I saw with my friend’s family ten months before. Both share a deep love for one and other, and a devotion to family that keeps them steady in times of weakness.

There’s something so beautiful about death. In our broken moments of grief, we are at our very worst but we are also at our best. It is in these shattered times that we are in our truest form. We are not the wealthy banker, the waitress, or the homeless guy on the street corner; we are just humans, sad and broken in our loss. It’s in these moments that we become beautiful in our tenderness.

Most people I know fear vulnerability. We’re supposed to be strong, be champions of our own lives. “Never Quit” everyone says with rigid tenacity. We chant “life is good” and smile even when our heart aches. But when someone close to us dies, something happens and we can no longer hold up that front, and even if it’s just for a moment we break as we realize that we and everyone we love is fragile.

It’s during this window that our view of the world shifts in radical ways. We’re rudely awakened to the fact that most of this stuff—the things we wrap our identity around—doesn’t matter, not one bit and we’re left in this raw, vulnerable state that is both terrifying and absolutely beautiful.

As horrible and awful as these feelings of grief are, these rare moments to me are like gold, for this is the time when the heart splits open and in our bareness we are reminded who we are. It is then that we see that we are not the costumes we wear or the identities we take on, but instead we are simple, delicate beings. Human to the utmost.

There is nothing wrong with grief, there is nothing wrong with sadness and there is nothing wrong with letting your heart break open, because when you do, you expose that raw, bare piece of yourself. In that moment you have the opportunity to stand up and say “Here I am!”—not the cooperate investor, not the single mom, or the garbage collector—just YOU. Pure, simple, beautiful you.

When you celebrate who you truly are, a beautiful creature of dichotomies: strong and weak, radiant and ugly, fearful and brave—something great happens. The healing begins and suddenly there’s space for the sun to shine in.

I believe death is beautiful…because it is also life. The two are so closely intertwined that you can’t pull them apart. The more things end, the more that they begin.

Today at my aunt’s funeral I did not see that dark, ugly thing called “death” that people spend most their lives running from. All I saw was love. And although someone magnificent is missing from that picture today, my aunt is still here in her truest essence, because love does not die. Everything that she ever truly was lives on, moving outward like a ripple of golden light that spreads, touching everything in its wake.

Life is horrible, life is ugly, but it is also so exquisitely beautiful. In this world, you can’t have one without the other, in fact I think on some level they might be one and the same. Acknowledging this heart wrenching…yet astonishing truth is one of our greatest challenges we have as beings on this planet, but it is also holds one of our greatest rewards.

Do not fear your brokenness…it is your gift.

May light and love guide your path always.

Peace,

Becky

 

Diving for Gold

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Just four days ago, my husband and I drove south from our home in Flagler Beach, Florida, towards Key West. As we made our way along a thin stretch of highway that connects an archipelago of islands  I started seeing ads for scuba diving adventures.

I had always fantasized about diving, but the thought of it also terrified me. My slight fear of the ocean coupled by my experiences getting sea sick kept it from ever becoming a reality.

Yet somehow, out of my mouth I heard myself say to my husband: “Let’s go scuba diving.”

The terrified, wimpy-self in my head thought, Are you crazy? We don’t scuba dive.

But bold me pressed on, “Come on…Let’s do it!” I said out loud, convincing my husband .

After all, everything else in my life lately has been about letting go, facing my fears, why not do this one too? This trip to the Keys was a bold move in itself as we were leaving the kids longer than we ever had before and I knew my husband, celebrating twenty years together, had issues to resolve that would certainly come up during this trip.

When Shawn gave me the okay I called a Key West based scuba diving outfitters called Try Scuba Diving, Key West and scheduled our trip. The next day we met these three great guys, our guides: John, Stephan, and Peter.

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The boat was neatly organized with a row of vests, air tanks, flippers, and such. On the boat was a sweet German couple who were visiting the US, bounding from adventure to adventure on a Florida whirlwind trip. Our guides created a mellow, happy mood that instantly put me at ease.

However when the boat pulled into the bay, I panicked wondering if the motion sickness meds had time to take effect, but the skies were crisp and blue, the water calm and emerald green. The summer breeze blew against my face and within moments I had forgotten to worry about sea sickness. I was perfectly fine.

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We stopped in the shallow water…just four feet deep to try out the vests and tanks and learn the basics of diving. I settled myself down in the water and found myself at ease breathing through the tank.

We got back in the boat and headed to our official dive spot for the day. I was ready to go. We plunged down into the water and suddenly things didn’t feel so easy. There had been a storm the night before so things were a bit cloudy—maybe with 15 foot visibility. We could still see plenty, but it wasn’t the picture perfect, crystal clear Jacques Cousteau moment I imagined and I felt a little closed in.

I was in an alien world. I could not speak, ask questions, or even really communicate through facial expressions. Nothing was real. Nothing went by the rules of this world, not even the way I propelled myself through space. It was life with completely new guidelines. And although it was exciting on some levels, my scared, control-freak self constantly wanted to take the reins and swim back up to the surface.

At one point during my initial panic I noticed my diligent guide was pantomiming to me, his hands going slowly up and down over his chest like a Tai Qi master.

“Breathe,” he was telling me. I understood!

Instantly I let myself relax and feel my breath. It wasn’t so bad.

As time passed and I learned to regulate my buoyancy with my breath I started to feel as if I had some control. Although that scared little voice in my head was still chatting away, I found a way to turn her volume way down.

The fish were cool. I even saw a giant crab and a turtle…but that wasn’t what this trip was about for me…this time around it was about mastering my fear of the unknown and most importantly letting go of my need for control.

When I realized we had made our way back to the anchor of the boat, I saw our guide give us the sign for “up”. I felt my heart sink.

No….I want more! I thought. But sadly this trip was over.

On the boat ride back my husband and I looked at each other and smiled, high on our fantastic underwater adventure.

“When are we going to do this again?” I asked and together we discussed the logistics of getting our kids out scuba diving with us next time.

Something happened on that trip to the Keys. I found gold, but it wasn’t in the form of a coin at the bottom of the ocean, nor was it in a “mermaid moment” where I felt completely free and alive swimming about.

Instead I found gold in the work, in the effort of calming myself, finding my center. The gem of my Key West trip came from the struggle, from that little battle I had with my terrified ego, who wanted nothing more than to swim to the surface and hang on for dear life to that boat.

My treasure came from refusing to give in to that dark, timid side of myself and instead, nurture that piece of me that whispers: “everything is alright” “have faith” “you are safe”.

Just as I had anticipated, in spite of our wonderful water adventure, the car ride home with my husband, brought up a lot of the relationship grime, that I knew we had to deal with.

As we talked I noticed that many times in my relationships I’ve wanted to flee—just like I did in the ocean. It’s as if I want to say, “Alright. I’m done with this shit! Bring me back to the boat. This is too hard!”

But now I’m wondering if I can treat my relationships more like I treated that dive. Don’t feed the fear…instead listen for that other voice, the one who loves us unconditionally who is there whispering in her sweetness- “Do not fear. You are okay.”

I tell my daughter from time to time that the bravest people aren’t the ones who go out and do things fearlessly, but the ones who are scared and do them anyway. I think I’m one of the brave ones. (As are you!)

Bravery comes in all forms, whether its in getting in a boat and diving deep under the water, or looking at your relationships head on and acknowledging the ways you may struggle with your capabilities as a good friend, a wife, a parent, a lover.

Sometimes the treasure isn’t in a tangible object like a shiny coin, but in Love itself. The bounty comes from making the choice to not swim for the surface, but instead to stay deep down, even when things feel scary.

Today and every day I take a dive into the ocean of my own heart, and whatever darkness, whatever murkiness I uncover I keep on swimming, because I know from my depths everything is okay.

Keep on swimming.

In Love,

Becky

 

The Best Book Ever Written

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I was sitting on the beach this morning, watching the sunrise, drinking my tea when a pesky question arose in my mind:

What do you want?

Oh great, I thought, not this one again. Sometimes I’m too existential for my own good.

What’s funny about this is just a few days ago, as I was working on my new book  I asked this question regarding my main character:

What does she want?

This notion  is the core of my book—all my books. What is the single driving factor for each of my protaganists? Everything in my story that happens from beginning, middle and end points to the central desire of the leading role. This driving force is what keeps the reader engaged. It’s why we read… to see if the characters get what they want in the end.

Isn’t that all we’re looking for in life as well? To follow our desires and ultimately leave this planet finding what we came for?  That’s why this element is key to good story telling.  Desire seeking is a key component to the human condition.

In the case of my novella (working title:Oz Sucks) Jane, a cynical, spitfire has been blown to Oz in a hurricane and wants nothing more than to get home. Thus I am creating a story dedicated to Jane’s quest. Every scene in the book in some way points towards her desire, either bringing her closer or farther from her goal.

My secondary character, the cocky, romantic interest, Kansas transplant Nick wants one thing and one thing only—to have Jane. So, my story is a dance of sorts between these two characters, based on a basic premise: Jane wants to go home and Nick wants Jane.

Think about the “characters” in your life. Are you not also doing a dance with them as them as well? A push-pull of I want, you want… we want?

A great example of this comes from Lord of the Rings. The premise is so simple. Frodo, wants to get rid of the ring without being sucked in by its power…and of course Sméagol wants the ring. Such a modest premise for such a rich, complicated story.

We are no different than the characters in the books we read. We are all driven by our desires, thus our lives unfold according to the path we choose. If you want to be a wealthy person, your life story will show you acting in ways either to make money.or in some people’s case spending money haphazardly in order create the illusion of wealth. If your reason to live is to make your children happy, all of your core actions will be to give them what they need for a happy existence.

Of course our desires change over time since life is full of many sub-stories…not quite as clean and crisp as a book. However if you step back, pretend you are the reader instead of the leading role, you can see what drives you, why you do what you do.

It’s a weird exercise, seeing yourself as the reader (or the writer) instead of the actor, but I find it fun and fascinating.

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Sunrise near my home in Flagler Beach, Florida

I’ve probably sat in this spot on the beach five hundred times in the last five years and each time my surface desires have morphed and changed, but this morning I felt something different. Beneath my multitude of wants, something stayed the same.

What do I want? I asked myself. I knew the answer. Like a character in one of my books, the core of my desire has been calling me all these years.

I want to bring love to this world…and so, for me, as I write this life story I know it’s about becoming whole, so I can help others in their journey.

So if I’m to stay true to my writer’s code, every action I do from here on out should reflect this desire to not just give love, but be love.

That’s one lofty book, but I think I’m up to it.

Remember you’re the author of your own book….your own personal masterpiece.  Make it a good one.

In love,

Becky

PS. Here’s a great talk by Andrew Stanton the creator of Finding Nemo who talks about the key components of story telling and the power of asking ‘what do you want?’

 

 

 

Great Expectations (according to Luke Skywalker)

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Remember the scene in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is facing Yoda’s trials in the cave on Dagobah? There he faces Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle, only to find after decapitating him that beneath Darth’s mask is Luke’s own face.

That’s how I feel lately…..maybe minus the light sabers.

Some days I feel like I’ve been up against insurmountable “bad guys”, the kind of people who I seem to meet over and over again in my life. These people come in many incarnations, with different guises, but their MO is always the same.

They are never satisfied. These are people who beg for your love, yet nothing you do will satiate their need. Everything is conditional. They are what the Chinese call hungry ghosts. In China they depict these people as ghoulish beings with over sized stomachs and tiny mouths. Never can they feel full.

And so all along my life I complained incessantly about these people, who seemed to haunt me at every turn. I even wrote a book series about them (www.HungryGhostBooks.com) As far as I was concerned I gave and gave but never received.

In these scenarios I always saw myself as a bit of a hero—the do gooder. You know, like Luke Skywalker. I was the bold giver, who loves these people so much that she risks losing herself, wasting away, in some sort of glorious act of devotion…A picture perfect martyr, no?

Lately this whole Luke scenario keeps popping up in my head, especially when I’m meditating. I know this is weird, but once in a while, as I sit there alone with my breath, an intrusive thought pops up and I feel myself not as me but as these other people, the ones who have caused me so much trouble along the way. Part of me is thinking, “What the f#$@”and I try to push it down. When it doesn’t go down I push harder.

I’ve learned however that the most important part of meditation is to simply be with your thoughts. Don’t feed them, but also don’t fight them.

And so, that is what I did…I sat with the yuckiness.

In the process I’m learning something…I am not just the good guy in this movie I call “My Life”, in fact many times I am the never-satisfied one, demanding more of my friends, of my husband, of my kids than they could ever give. And like my adversaries, occasionally my expectations are so high that I put them in the position of the feeder, scooping their version of love into me faster than I can swallow.

This is a horrible thing to think about yourself, but I believe, like all of us, I too am a creature of the darkside. It cannot be denied.

When we’re in those dark winding caverns, we have a choice. With our light saber drawn we can knock our enemies down, we can run from their unshrouded masks, or we can acknowledge who they really are. Light and dark.

Rather than hating our enemies we can pause and acknowledge that maybe in some ways they are only us in disguise.

Loving one’s self, without condition, without expectation is perhaps one of the hardest tasks we are set out to do in this life. We all are hungry ghosts on some level, looking for an idealized  image that will never be, but when we wander the corridors of life, sometimes we see that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and we know, even in our darkest moments that each of us hold in our hands all of the beauty and perfection we ever wanted.

And we are forgiven….unconditionally.

In this maze that we all walk through, all we can do is love. I say that over and over again…it’s so simple but it’s perhaps the only real thing we can do.

Love and forgive.

May the Force be with you.

Peace,

Becky

 

 

Little Did I Know

 

I’m riding my motorcycle down Old Dixie Highway. The trees are arching overhead; thirty feet high. Below, the woods are thick with palmettos, gnarly oaks, and scraggly pines. The air is cool as it courses past my cheeks, across my arms. I am alive with intensity.

I am a new rider. This is the second time that I’ve ridden the historic Ormond Scenic Loop and I’m all in, focused intently on keeping up with the bike in front of me, watching my acceleration, braking when needed, turning with the curves.

As I ride, a funny tune pops into my head “ram, ram, sita ram.” It’s Sanskrit…and actually not a song at all but a chant I had been listening to the previous week, with hopes of gaining a sense of balance and calm that I have sought for a very long time.

So, as I focus intently on keeping my bike rolling and this little mantra chimes in my head, I smile. Here I am a Jewish housewife riding a motorcycle, singing a Hindu chant as I ride to Daytona Beach for a bike rally. But as absurd this may seem, in this little moment it makes perfect sense. I’m exactly where I should be. And although not in my wildest dreams could I have ever pictured myself in this situation, I’m where I always wanted to be. Simply here.

Of course, my mind still wants to rattle on. It wants to think serious, deep thoughts about my “complicated” life. My emotions want to take me on unneeded trips, egging me on with all sorts of drama, but my heart, this little thing in the center of it all, is simply present…there with the road. In this moment as everything stills the only things I know are the actions of my feet…my hands….my heart.

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I have recently taken up meditation as a daily practice…and I have to say as difficult as learning to ride a motorcycle has been for me, I think mediation is harder.

Just you try, telling this neurotic, obsessive Jewish girl to not think…to just sit and be. Ha! Preposterous.   But I’m doing it…with the help of my lovely motorcycle rides…and a dedication to end this cycle of suffering, to be the present for the people I love, and to bring joy to this world.

So, here I am, embarking on the hardest thing I have ever agreed to do… making a vow to myself to be with my heart…to no longer live in fear, greed and selfishness. I know I’m going to screw up. Of course I will! It’s part of the learning curve. There’s no exact road map for me to follow. I will make mistakes…just like I know I will probably spend many meditation sessions trying not to attach to the chatty noise in my head. I will still hurt and I will still fall, but I will try my best to do it with compassion, forgiveness and the heartfelt intent to make good in this world.

And so, I plan to write good stories, love my family, be good to my friends, ride my bike, sing goofy mantras, and mediate  all with the intent of doing what I discovered that day beneath the trees on my motorcycle…. Being here now with beauty, love, and joy.

There’s nowhere else to be.

Peace.

 

The Day I Stopped Trying….

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I woke up yesterday morning sure as hell I was leaving. I was going to go to Marrakesh. I was going to pack my bags, kiss my kids and my husband goodbye and head overseas. Oh, I’d be back, maybe in a month or two but in the meantime I’d be off wandering open air markets, riding camels for fun, and eating all the humus my heart desired. That’s what one does in Marrakesh, right??

Frankly I knew nothing about this city. It’s in Morocco, right? But I did know- if I could throw a stone over the ocean, from the beach where I mediate each day, I’d hit this far off land.

And flying over the Atlantic to a distant world, where I wasn’t me, where my problems didn’t exist seemed like the best solution…because frankly I was sick of me….this me anyway.

“Traveling Me” wasn’t failing her family, her friends. “Traveling Me” didn’t have a house to keep clean, children and a husband to keep happy. She could make mistakes without causing a whole household to tumble. Traveling Me wasn’t needy, insecure, a victim of her own imaginary tragedies.

For months…years… I told everyone I was going to fix things… that’s right, everything I hated about myself. I was going to erase horrible Becky and bring in a better one….no…a perfect one!

I had a plan. I read books on how to be a better person, made motivational charts, wrote blog entries, gave myself mantras, prayed to the sun. Yet in the end I always failed.

The pain of imagining how horrible and unpleasant of a person I must be was getting unbearable…but somehow when I looked around, I saw that everyone still loved me, deeply. They didn’t care about my motivation charts, the mantras I chose. They loved me. Just me.

The only person who thought of me as a failure was me.

The day before my imaginary plans to Marrakesh began I was unloading cans onto the pantry shelf in our kitchen. …Actually I was shoving cans into the shelf because I had failed to clean it off, for weeks. It was overflowing . Yet another reason to loath myself. And so as I rested a can of chicken stock onto the stack, CRASH! The shelf collapsed causing a cascade of other collapsing shelves….and what did I do? I collapsed too. Right there in the kitchen. I cried and cried and cried. My eight year old twins came running into the room asking what was wrong.

What was I to say? I’m a horrible person? I’m sorry I failed you again?

I went upstairs to my room and sobbed until I reached exhaustion. I was so tired of failing.

Now here’s the thing about me, when it comes to emotional intelligence I’m not dumb. I understand my psyche quite well. I know I’m not a horrible person. I know people love me. I know this.  I  know I’m not depressed. It is just I keep playing forty year old “tapes” in my mind, tapes that say ‘You will never be good enough for the people you love.’

That’s one crappy burden to carry. In fact, it’s become a self-fulfilling prophesy. I get so sick of trying to attain imaginary heights that I say “fuck it! It’s not worth it anyway. ” Why bother?

And so yesterday in the face of my Marrakesh dreams I looked at my husband and said, “We need to leave.” He looked at me confused.

“I’m getting a hotel room in Daytona,” I said

So, we set the twins up with my 16-year-old son and we drove the 30 miles to Daytona Beach.

And during the drive, I poured it all out…all of it…about my struggles to be “good” and the “voices” who are telling me who I should be.  I talked the poor man’s ear off, and he listened, saying little, as I shared my bare ugly truth.

But here’s the deal, at the end of my soliloquy I felt better.  I realized maybe it all wasn’t so ugly. This needy, tired little girl was just a piece of me.  She is the one who tells me love is conditional, that love can only be attained through song and dance, though saying and doing just the right things.

But the truth is, love is not based on the state of your pantry, the nutrition content of the food put on your table, or for me as an author –the number of books I sell. Love permeates it all.

In the end the act of trying is useless. The true secret is being, because love doesn’t care how many hoops you jump through, love just is.

May you, in your journeys know that you too are loved by just being beautiful you. There’s nothing to prove. Love is all there is.

And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll see you in Marrakesh!

Peace

Waking Up

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This morning I woke up in a horrible funk…once again angry at myself for all the ways I’ve declared myself a failure. It seems to be a pattern lately, waking up in despair.

So, since it’s Sunday and I don’t have to get the kids off to school I decided to try something different. I slipped on some clothes and walked down to the beach. When I got there the morning sky was glowing, rays of sunlight pouring through the clouds onto the ocean’s surface.

I stepped in the sand and did my morning “yoga” prayer to the sea, then settled myself on a step at the beach walkover. With no particular plan I ripped out half a page out of a notebook I had brought along. I then began scrawling all the things I “hated” about myself—all those things that ran through my head while I laid in bed most mornings…my neediness, my lack of order, the ways I’ve clearly fail my family, friends and myself….all my inadequacies. I didn’t hold back one bit.

Then with pleasure I shredded the half sheet into little pieces and stepped into the water. With a smile on my face I tossed the paper in, watching the little fragments flutter into the ocean like a flock of tiny birds on their final flight.

I then walked back to my seat, where my notebook and pen sat. In front of me was the remaining, blank half sheet of paper.

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Looking at it I decided it needed to be filled. And so I began to write a response to those negative words that were now part of the waves:

This is you. The one here in this moment, connected to the ocean, connected to God. Fear is just a distant whisper—a memory of need and loss. It serves no purpose anymore.

You are here—magnificent, with all the knowledge you need in the palm of your hand. You are the light that streams through the clouds, the breeze that blows, the changing tide. Your heart breaths light.

Chaos and order are just perceptions. The world is both—neither good nor bad.

I hereby free you from your obsessions, your worry. These are distant calls. They are no longer needed in this magnificent place.

Now—tell this to your heart! Worry and self-hatred are no longer you.

You are beauty, light, and love.

And so, I came back from the beach feeling calm and clean, free from my worries.

It’s going to be a good day.

Peace,

Becky

www.beckypourchot.com